SPOILER ALERT: This article contains details of tonight’s third episode of Game of Thrones’ Season 8.
The moment is here. In what can be considered the television event of 2019, HBO on Sunday aired the Battle of Winterfell episode of Game of Thrones titled “The Long Night,” which finds all of our beloved Westeros characters (well, most of them) going to war with the Night King’s band of icy undead army of soldiers who are in desperate need of moisturizer and a hot oil treatment. Episode 2 of the eighth and final season was essentially a setup for tonight’s battle — and our patience was rewarded with an all-out brawl with some twists, turns and unfortunate casualties that have left our jaws on the floor. This only makes us crave more as only three episodes remain after tonight.
With a run time of 82 minutes, tonight’s episode marks the longest of the six remaining from the final season — and with good reason. There was too much bloodshed to fit in an hour, and David Benioff and D.B. Weiss know what the fans want and they delivered with this feature-like episode that included one of the most epic battles in the history of TV.
The episode, the first of the season written by Benioff and Weiss and directed by Miguel Sapochnik, starts where the last one left off. Everyone is getting ready for a war that they think they have no chance of winning. The first shot is of Samwell (John Bradley) nervously arming himself before the impending bloodshed as the camera moves from character to character before finally seeing the massive frontlines of battle awaiting the Night King and his army to emerge from the darkness. In other words, there are lots of longing looks of fear-induced determination and silence for the first 10 minutes of the show. Then, our favorite Red Priestess Melisandre (Carice van Houten) gives everyone a boost of confidence by spouting a few words and arming almost everyone with a flaming sword like it’s a Westeros rave. And then she makes eyes with Arya (Maisie Williams) as if one of them owes the other money.
Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and his Auntie/Lover (ew, again) Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) look on as the first wave of troops charges into the void like it’s the Battle of Wakanda. Before we know it they disappear and their swords are no longer aflame.
Welp, they are no longer and as everyone else wonders what the hell happened, undead burps and belches from the darkness, the army of undead troops emerge and the battle begins. Jon and Auntie D bring the fire with some How to Train Your Dragon realness while Arya tells Sansa to head to the crypt for safety. Sansa is all, “I’m not leaving my peeps” and Arya insists, leading us all to wonder who is the Beyonce and who is the Solange in this sisterhood.
As Jon and Auntie D attempt to navigate their dragons in what seems to be some sort of supernatural snow storm, bodies hit the floor. We immediately anticipate the deaths of our favorite characters — and the return of the White Walker dragon. As the battle rages on, we see our first casualty: Dolorous Edd (Ben Crompton), the acting Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, is stabbed while saving Samwell.
The army retreat as the supernatural army of undead droolers become too much to handle and the storm worsens. They attempt to build a ring of fire around Winterfell to no avail — but then Melisandre walks up and says, “I’ve got this.” She casts another spell. Like a scene out of The Craft she eventually finds the power and the trench surrounding Winterfell is engulfed in flames, preventing the Army of Darkness from coming in.
At this point, we have reached halftime. Sansa shares a charming exchange with Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) in the crypt about their past marriage and Theon (Alfie Allen) and Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) have some words before the Stark visionary uses his That’s So Raven powers.
Meanwhile, the Night King has rolled up into Winterfell with his White Walker dragon and the undead army has found a way around the ring of fire. The army starts invading the castle as more blood is shed. It starts looking like a scene from World War Z except with more swords.
The level of bonkers begins to slowly increase in the episode — and it hits peak crazy when a zombie giant enters the castle killing everyone in his path. The Hound (Rory McCann) is having an anxiety attack while Arya is racking up the points showing us why she is a badass. And in one of the most upsetting moments of the episode, the feisty Lady of Bear Island Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) takes on the giant zombie only to be crushed in his hands — but she doesn’t go out like a punk. She stabs him in the eye before breathing her last breath, bringing the giant down.
Jon and Dany take the fight to the air with their dragons and have a little dog fight with the Night King and his White Walker dragon. Meanwhile, Arya goes off on her own in the halls of the castle fighting off more of the undead — and it plays out like a horror movie. In a moment where she is overwhelmed, The Hound (over his anxiety attack) and Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) help her out — but the eye-patched hero doesn’t make it out alive. They are trapped in a room with Melisandre, who, by the way, just happens to pop up anywhere and everywhere. She’s like that friend who shows up right after something bad happens.
It doesn’t take long before the Night King and his dragon breath fire on to Winterfell. The Night King is taken down but Jon is as well. This leaves Dany and her dragon in the sky. She comes face to face with the Night King and she stares upon him and says “Dracarys,” lighting him the eff up — but she should know better. He walks away unharmed and Jon goes after him — which is a bad idea.
The Night King recycles the dead bodies surrounding him to build a whole new army of undead — including Lyanna! This does not look good as the dead are rising up from everywhere…including the crypt.
It has now become Game of Thrones: Night White Walker of the Living Dead.
As the new army of undead begins to overwhelm, Dany comes in and does her fire thing to clear a path for Jon to get to Bran, who is currently being protected by Theon. Jon rushes to Bran as Dany’s dragon is attacked by a swarm of wights. Dany is sans dragon and is about to be killed — but it’s Jorah (Iain Glen) to the rescue!
What follows is a montage of impending defeat. We see nearly everyone in hand-to-hand combat as Winterfell begins to burn to the ground. Tyrion and Sansa team up to help those in the crypt, Jon is attempting to be a hero, and Dany is getting blood on her precious white outfit.
The Night King and his entourage reach Bran and they make eye contact with Theon. Bran says to him: “You’re a good man, thank you.” A valiant Theon attacks the Night King only to be met with defeat. Yup, Greyjoy is no more. And at that moment, the body count of GoT faves continues as Jorah is slain in front of Dany.
The Night King reaches Bran and is about to kill him and OUT OF NOWHERE comes Arya. She kills him and, in turn, his entire army dies — including his precious dragon.
As the dust settles, everyone looks around at the devastation of the mournful victory. Dany cries over the dying body of Jorah while Melisandre, done with her duties as Red Priestess, removes her magical choker and steps out into a field and turns to dust as if Thanos just snapped…and THAT’S THE END.
Tonight’s episode comes after, for the third week in a row, the series fell victim to piracy. However, this week’s episode wasn’t totally leaked online like the first and second episode. Instead, someone got hold of stills from the Battle of Winterfell and leaked them on Twitter. Although nothing major was revealed, the pics started to spread on social media fairly quickly.
For those who didn’t succumb to spoilers, they were in for a treat — but now that the Night King is dead, what is next? Let’s hope by next week, GoT pirates will take a break from unveiling the goods before the episode airs so that we can be gagged with all the shock and awe that this fantasy series has to offer.
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